The Third Leader: Snow business

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The Independent Online

As I've had to indicate already this week, these are testing times to be British. We've got all these nasty bugs going around, House of Lords reform and the axing of Lord Byron from the curriculum. Now it seems we're also going to have to contend with the recurring phenomenon that always surprises us and has a unique effect on this country: snow.

I imagine that you, like me, having heard the gloomy, doomy forecasts, spent most of yesterday in concentrated preparation for the white hell. Shovel, check. Ice axe, check. Chains, crampons, distress flares, hardtack biscuits, stock cubes, balaclava, raw fish for the Huskies, Ray Mears book, tip for the gritter driver, check. After that, it was just a matter of waiting, edgily, and making sure the diary entry had the right tone.

Forgive me for treating the threat a touch lightly; forgive me, particularly, if you are reading this in your carriage stopped just outside Reading, or you're in the 102nd car on the M6, Exmoor, or somewhere near Scotch Corner. My excuse - and everyone's, really - is that it surprises us because, more often than not, it doesn't.

Proceeding cautiously, then, I imagine that we all, wherever and however we are, will need to exercise our famous sense of humour, which has been expressly developed to meet the challenges of times such as these.

I've always liked, for example: "Knock, knock. Who's there? Emma. Emma who? Emma flaming cold out here, let me in." My favourite, though, remains one snowman saying to the other, "Is it me, or can you smell carrot, too?"